Friday, 25 October 2013


bar of gold and almost as valuable - 3.7 this one if I remember correctly

They say that variety is the spice of life and when it comes to fishing, I for one certainly find that to be true. There are so many different species to hunt and each come with their own special challenges and wonderful contrasting places that they live. Don’t you just luv it!

don't arm wrestle with Mr.Yates
My season usually starts with crucians and tench and at the time they seem like the ultimate quarry because they live in such glorious places. Shared with the likes of Mr.Yates and Chris Wild, smiling is the only option.

Chris W with PB golden tench of 5+
pole fishing for tench and crucians is a joy
5.15 elastic stretcher
However, roach are never far from my mind as despite the glib saying ‘my favourite species is whatever I am fishing for at the time’, roach and rudd probably win the day.

2.8 Sway roach, also on the pole - you can't beat it
Who you fish with is more important anyway, so when Gerry came down from Manchester to try to catch a big crucian, it was a delight to be able to put him in the swim that delivered. His previous biggest was less than a pound so for him to bag ten with all bar one over two pounds meant it was a red letter day.

crucian swim to die for
Gerry with 2.9 PB crucian - what a happy lad
distracted by big roach in the upper lake
Chris on the hunt for a carp in the next swim
Mullet are never far from our minds when summer arrives and several attacks of mullet madness were shared with Steve. We caught plenty too but even when they proved tricky, as they do, it was still always a treat to be out in the wide open spaces.

Steve with a 5.15 battler - took fifteen minutes to subdue - awesome
My childhood was spent in such places, for I grew up in the Fens and have to return each year for a trip down memory lane. Tench, bream and rudd are the quarry and the drains at dawn and dusk simply magical places, especially as I fished them more than fifty years ago, cycling from Ely on my trusty Raleigh with rod attached.

Fenland dusk - magic
aren't rudd beautiful
I met Chris Hammond perching there one day and he’s become an ‘email pal’, so I was delighted when he caught a two pound rudd when I was there with a camera. He introduced me to Newmarket [by Royal Appt.] sausages too so apart from his friendship, I have lots to thank him for!

Chris with a 2+ gem
Fenland sunset
a lake of perfect peace
Chris concentrating on his roach fishing

A roaching session on a lovely wild estate lake near Shaftesbury with my computer guru friend, Chris Wild produced more elastic stretching tench and several big roach to 1.15. Chris caught several too but I was so busy trying for a two pounder that I didn’t photograph his … must try harder.
struggling with a tenacious tench

small but don't fiesty little males fight hard
very close to two pounds but no coconut
the famous Bridge Pool on the Avon
Trev enjoying a relaxing morning bagging up
Close friend Trevor Harrop of Avon Roach Project fame and I share adventures as often as possible and the Bridge Pool on the Avon usually receives a visit once a year. It’s famous for dace and sea trout but being roach fanatics, we ignore the usual maggot throwing antics and ball in heavy bread mash balls. We catch lots of roach too. No big uns this year but a real fun day, especially the banter from the locals and tourists who barrack us from the bridge.
not big but perfectly formed - the roach!

any roach is a good roach these days
preparing for a day on the water

I escape film-making as often as possible in my little boat, trying for roach and mullet on the estuary but often catching bass and sea trout as well. Hours of fun, bouncing around on the ocean waves in the sunshine.

just lovely out there at dawn
tasty sea trout but they have to go back ... sadly
5.8 of battling mullet - I thought my roach rod was going to break in half
swimming off to fight another day
6.14 of gorgeous barbel

Come September, I felt it was high time I returned to the rivers and tried to catch a barbel. As you will be well aware, like so many rivers, the Avon has been low and clear but I got lucky with the barbel on the three days I tried, probably because close friend Mr.Bowler gave me lessons! Every time I catch one I wonder why I don’t fish for them more often. They are so beautiful, even if they don’t fight as hard as mullet.

might be a nuisance fish when barbelling ... but at 5lbs ... I don't think so
a perfect barbel swim but where are they?
8.15 of golden beauty - not big by modern standards but who cares
golden dawn in the Clay Pool

Trev and I were out on the estuary again last week trying for roach and mullet but we had suffered the first frost of the winter, so despite trying five different swims, we almost blanked. In one swim we had to move when a diver surfaced by our floats. You couldn’t make it up could you - we had to laugh!

tench bubbles?!
he seemed quite surprised we were laughing
you couldn't make it up
hundreds of mullet all around the boat - we couldn't catch them though

We were surrounded by hundreds of mullet but they were sun bathing on the surface and wouldn’t take the bait properly. Trev managed a thin bass and I saved a blank with a blennie! The day was wonderful in the shirt sleeve sunshine though and proved the saying that there’s more to fishing than catching fish.
thin but silvery bass

Chris with a bronzy Dane chub
Last but not least was a days fishing on the Dane with ‘ManU Gerry’ and Mr.Yates. We were joined by a Passion for Angling fan Tommy, a carp angler who had never fished a river before. Gerry set him up in a tasty swim after we’d enjoyed the best bacon sarnie in the world and Tommy promptly caught his first ever river fish, a barbel. Now life doesn’t get any better than that does it?
Tommy with his first ever river fish

Monday, 21 October 2013


confidence from Chris before the match
Chris and I have just returned from a splendid couple of days 'up north' courtesy of our fishing pal Gerry Higham.

the great men ... oh, plus Sir Alex of course
Not only did he provide good fishing on the River Dane but his Manchester United team allowed us to come away with a point from the Theatre of Dreams, the first Southampton have won there since 1988.
they've won a few over the years

surprise greeting of the fans
a full house ready for kick off
Chris with a chunky chub
As for the fishing, we caught some chub, lost a barbel or two and better still, a fan of Passion for Angling, Tommy came along to join us and caught his first ever river fish - a barbel! His delighted face was the stuff that dreams are made of, until he lost an even bigger one and reality struck home.
carp angler Tommy with his first ever river fish - he's a convert now

the River Dane provides classic chub habitat, barbel too
The Dane is a perfect 'Crabtree' river with lots of twists and turns, shallows and deep holes, all interspersed by fishy overhanging willows. With more time we'd probably have bagged up.

Chris caught about five chub and a grayling, all on luncheon meat
another classic chub for Chris - he's quite good at this game
After splendid meals courtesy of Gerry and his wife Annie it was off to Old Trafford and a couple of hours of pure theatre. Chris was becoming ever more silent with nerves and Gerry so confident that he even gave us each a little packet of Kleenex.

it was Robin van Persie who scored first
I was quietly confident as 'our' team ran around United's stars with skill and determination but when RVP scored we began to be overrun. However, we regained our composure and despite our lack of cutting edge near goal, managed to get an equaliser in the dying minutes, a trick that Fergie had perfected over so many years. In the end the stats showed that we had dominated possession and had more shots on target, so despite United's wonderful football, we deserved a point.

Southampton calmly retaining the ball
What skill and drama we had witnessed, one of the finest sporting occasions you could ever wish to witness, even if the Man U fans didn't share our enthusiasm. We gave the tissues back to Gerry!

three great men at the end of the rainbow